“This is only our fifth night”, the waiter told us, when we asked how long “The Eat In” had been operating as a pop-up restaurant in the converted warehouse in Sydney’s Chippendale.
The space the restaurant inhabits consists of two main parts: a large darkened, and seemingly unused area on the left, and a kitchen/dining area on the right. There’s a little demarcation in the space between where the staff prepare the food, and where patrons, seated at long tables consume it. It was terrific to look over and see the food prepared, almost as if you were at a large dinner party in someone’s house.
And when I say house I mean converted warehouse. I didn’t notice much about the chairs we were seated on, but the tables are memorable as they were constructed from untreated chipboard. On each table, there were some desk lamps to provide lighting. And when you bought a bottle of wine, the waiter simply wrote on the table with chalk. Later, he calculated the bill on the table, and then when you paid, he wiped it clean with a damp cloth. It was strictly “cash only” last night, by the way.
There’s a lot to like about the philosophical underpinnings of the restaurant.
First, is the idea of varying the menu every day according to seasonality. I’m a great believer in buying seasonal produce, as it’s usually cheaper, and is always usually better quality than the crap they’ve been storing in freezers for weeks and months.
Second, I really love the idea of a five-course menu for the fixed price of forty dollars. So often when you go to restaurants you spend too much time looking and choosing from the menu. It was nice to have someone else do the hard work for you. The meals were interesting, tasty, and we left the restaurant feeling well-nourished.
We also left the restaurant thinking we would like to go back again. The staff were lovely and good at their jobs. Not overly familiar. Not too aloof. Just right. And they welcomed feedback, such as the need to have a few more fans in the space to keep the air circulating.
And how long will they stay at this location? Four months, the waiter told us.